▶️ Challenging times for child care; Kids Club of Jefferson Co. shares frustrations

By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Twenty kids are on the waitlist at the Kids Club of Jefferson County because hiring staff has become difficult.

Sara Johnston sees how overwhelmed the Kids Club of Jefferson County is. Her first-grader and two fifth-graders attend every day, getting distance learning help and socialization.

“They are really challenged with how many students they have, especially for the number of staff they have, Johnston said. “It’s been a huge benefit for us, not only as a child care support, but from an economic standpoint being open and available for us.”

Operations manager Caren Smith says hiring employees at the club has become difficult and admits The Club is short-staffed

“We are currently operating under the Oregon emergency child care guidelines,” Smith said. “One of those guidelines is that no one under the age of 18 can be alone with the kids, where previously we were able to hire high schoolers.”

The club currently has 45 kids, but because of the lack of staff, another 20 kids are on the waitlist 

“It was a very, very hard decision, but it was either do that or close the door on all 60 kids,” Smith said about making the decision to put so many kids on the waitlist because of a one staff member to 15 kid policy.

With staff and parent frustrations, Smith’s response was simple.

“At this time I think everyone should give everyone grace with all of us trying to get through this together,” Smith said. “We do the best we can, teachers are doing the best they can, and parents are doing the best they can.”

Even with the challenges and obstacles, parents like Johnston know it could be worse.

“Thank those educators and those kids club staff because without them we would be in a much larger predicament,” she said. 

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